Helping Students Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing Succeed

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By John L. Luckner, Samuel B. Slike [Saint Joseph’s University Director of the Special Education Online Programs], and Harold Johnson

We live in a sound-oriented society. Extensive amounts of information are conveyed both deliberately and incidentally through interactions with others. Through these interactions, children refine their communication skills, develop language, acquire information about the world (i.e., background and domain knowledge), learn concepts, become literate, develop social skills, and participate in the daily activities of life. A hearing loss of any degree or type can affect the quantity as well as the quality of interactions with others, which in turn may adversely affect language, academic, social, emotional, and career development.

Challenges for Educators

The U.S. Department of Education (2009) reported that about 87 percent of students who are deaf or hard of hearing spend a portion of the school day in general education classrooms. The challenge for both general and special education teachers who have not received specialized training to work with students who are deaf or hard of hearing is in knowing how to provide quantity and quality of services needed to access the academic content and social interactions of the general education setting. As noted by the U.S. Department of Education (1992):

Because deafness is a low incidence disability, there is not widespread understanding of its educational implications, even among special educators. This lack of knowledge and skills in our education system contributes to the already substantial challenges to deaf students in receiving appropriate educational services.

A hearing loss of any type or degree may affect development and functioning in many ways. This article highlights five specific challenges that often occur as byproducts of a hearing loss and that may interfere with the process of learning (see Figure 1):

  1. Language, vocabulary, and literacy delays.
  2. Gaps in background and domain knowledge.
  3. Inadequate knowledge and use of learning strategies.
  4. Social skills deficits.
  5. Reliance on assistive technology.

We provide examples of supplementary instruction and services to address each area. In addition, we advocate for direct as well as consultative services from teachers of students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Click here to read the full article as it appeared in Teaching Exceptional Children, Mar/Apr 2012.

If you are interested in teaching students who are deaf or hard of hearing to succeed, learn more about the Hearing Impaired K-12 certification program at Saint Joseph’s University. It’s available in an online format to give you maximum flexibility. (610) 660-3400 to speak with a Program Manager, or you can request more information below, and we’ll reach out to you.

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